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There is no regulatory definition of the term "trial home visit," as it is within the State's discretion to define. We do not think that it would be appropriate for us to develop a regulatory definition. We also do not believe that we could develop a definition that would be inclusive of the variety of State policies on trial home visits or that a definition would be helpful. In practice, a trial home visit is intended to be a short term option in preparation for returning the child home permanently.
Pursuant to 45 CFR 1356.21 (e), six months is the outside limit for a trial home visit without having to re-establish title IV-E eligibility if the child re-enters foster care, unless there is a court order extending the trial home placement beyond six months. If there is a court order extending the trial home visit beyond six months, and the trial home visit does not exceed the time frame in the court order, the child retains title IV-E eligibility upon returning to foster care following the trial home visit.
No. The regulations establish a six-month outer limit for a trial home visit, except when a court orders a longer visit. A court continuance of a hearing regarding the trial home visit does not satisfy this requirement.
Historically, this has been an area in which States have had some flexibility. If the State considered a child who is on a trial home visit to be "in foster care," then it was required to continue holding six-month periodic reviews and permanency hearings during that visit. If not, then the State was not required to hold such reviews or hearings. If the trial home visit ends within the six months allotted in the regulations at 45 CFR 1356.21 (e), then the foster care placement is considered continuous and the State should hold six-month periodic reviews and permanency hearings in accordance with the original schedule.
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